Alex Thompson, guest writer


            Pain. And darkness.

            John Scott, a private second class in the only army division the United States sent to France to aid in the Battle of Amiens during what most were now calling The Great War, lie on his stomach, his face in the dirt, slipping in and out of consciousness.

            It was August 12, 1918 – at least – that was the last date John remembered. It was the 5th day of fighting. But of that he was unsure as well.

            Where am I? I can’t feel my fingers! I can’t feel my toes.

            John could still hear the sounds of fighting: gunshots, screaming, orders yelled into the crowds of frightened men.

            My friends! I need to help them! John tried to climb to his feet but could not move at all. His strength sapped, John closed his eyes and felt himself slipping back into a deep yet restless sleep.

            He woke up suddenly to the sound of silence.

            Where is everyone? John moved his right arm into position to roll himself over. He strained, but the pain in his arm was too much.

            What the heck is wrong with me? He let his gaze crawl down his arm and stop just below his elbow. What he saw devastated him. The meaty section of his right forearm had been completely annihilated. A chunk of flesh roughly four inches long and two wide had been ripped off his bones. John saw the deep red puddle forming around his body and knew he had lost a lot of blood already. As his heart lost access to more and more of this precious resource, his extremities were being cut off from the supply.

            How did this happen? John could not remember what events had taken place that day, let alone what had happened to his arm.

            He thought of his 14-year-old daughter Anne. Will I see her again? I am the only family she has left, I can’t leave her.

            But John couldn’t move. How could he help his daughter while lying on the ground in Picardy, France, face in the dirt with a mutilated arm and unable to move? He succumbed to the sense of hopelessness slowly creeping up on him like a deadly cone snail.

             John Scott descended into darkness one final time.




            Hazel Wright sat on a branch in an apple tree growing on the massive piece of property her family had moved to in the rural part of northwest Colorado. They’d been there only four days. The frigid January air in Colorado was new to her, and she was having a hard time adjusting to it. She missed the relatively warm South Carolina weather. Snow rarely fell, and she had lived not far from the ocean. Often her family would take several-day camping trips to the beach.

            Hazel had many friends in South Carolina, and she missed them dearly.

            I still have Anne. She thought. Anne’s father, her last living relative, had died 3 years earlier in a key battle during The Great War. The Wright family was good friends with the Scotts and gladly adopted Anne when the last of her family was gone.

            “Lets go ice skating, Haze!”

            Hazel nearly jumped out of her own skin. Anne had snuck up behind her while she was absorbed in thought. Anne looked up at her longingly, as if a part of her heart was snagged up in the cold, fruitless apple tree.

            “Come on Haze, you’ve been sulking ever since we got here. Let’s go have some fun! Please? There is a frozen pond right through those trees.” She pointed at the evergreens that made a natural border at the edge of their property.

            “I don’t know, Anne. Its freezing cold out here.” The cold was not the only reason Hazel didn’t want to go skating. She was somewhat scared of trying new things. She was also afraid of messing up terribly and being humiliated.

            “You’re wearing two coats! It’s only 26 degrees. Its really not that cold. And besides, don’t you want to get your mind off the move?” Anne paused. “Pretend we are on vacation.”

            “Okay, okay I’ll go. But, only for a few minutes,” Hazel relented as she made her way down the tree. They retrieved the skates Hazel’s Aunt Ethel had given them for Christmas and started toward the pond.




            Secretly, Hazel loved ice skating with Anne. She gave in to the periodic trips to the pond much more easily now. Sometimes she even snuck out of the house and went by herself. The feeling of the cool winter air whisking by her ears and through her long brown hair was exhilarating. She felt as though she was flying as she sped across the ice.

            I hear that the 1924 winter olympics will be open to women. Maybe i should get better at ice skating and try out for the team. Ice skating had become Hazel’s favorite pastime.

            Anne had broken the blade on one of her ice skates. She jumped in the air spun around twice and landed on the outside edge of the pond where the ice was thin. Her skate broke straight through the ice and into the hard ground beneath. The blade stuck into the frozen earth and as Anne fell sideways, it snapped clear off the bottom of the shoe.

            Today, February 6th, Anne, Hazel, and her mother Mary were driving to town in their family’s new 1921 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost . Anne was looking for new skates, and Mary wanted to buy some new silverware. They spent hours searching for skates that were just the right size for Anne and silverware that had just the right pattern on it.

            On the way back from their shopping spree, they decided to stop at the theatre and see the new Charlie Chaplin film, The Kid, that was released earlier that day. All three loved the film and talked about it all the way back home.




            It was March 4th. As Hazel’s family finished breakfast, her father read the daily newspaper.

            “First headline reads…” He began, “Harding inaugurated.” He paused, reading ahead. “Our new president, Warren Harding, was sworn into office yesterday afternoon. Hopefully this one will see an end to the bickering between Germany and the rest of the world.”

            “Boring,” Anne retorted “is there anything more interesting in there?” She didn’t want to be reminded about the war her father fought and died in. It had been three years since he died and she still had not gotten over her father’s death.

            “It says here that Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize in physics this year.”

            “Oh, I love physics!” Hazel cried.

            “Einstein is scheduled to speak on his new theory of relativity on April 2nd.”

            “Where is he going to be speaking? Can we go?” Anne pleaded.

            “He’ll be speaking in New York. I think that is a great idea. I am quite interested in what new light Einstein will present to us.”